Interview with JavaOne Rock Star Monica Beckwith

How can you hire more women engineers? “Be flexible to accommodate their needs”

Gabriela Motroc
women engineers
Monica Beckwith

Why do most IT companies have so few female engineers? How can they hire more women engineers? If only we knew the answers to these questions….We talked to Monica Beckwith, Java/JVM Performance Consultant and JavaOne Rock Star, about how employers can persuade female engineers to join their companies.

Diverse teams make better decisions; this is what a plethora of studies have concluded. Yet, there are a lot of IT companies still struggling to hire female engineers. Changing the ratio is not an easy thing to do, especially in teams that are highly technical, but it can be done.

We talked to Monica Beckwith, Java/JVM Performance Consultant and JavaOne Rock Star, about how employers can persuade female engineers to join their companies. 

JAXenter: The diversity discussion is gaining momentum, but business owners still have one major problem: they don’t know how to hire (more) female engineers. How should they approach them?

Monica Beckwith: It depends on what level they are hiring. Campus recruitment is a great way to meet and encourage female engineers to apply. When hiring an experienced engineer, allow the engineer to discuss her achievements and talent, ask relevant questions; describe the job details and ask what she thinks about the work and how she would fit in.

JAXenter: Do you think some recruiters somehow repel this set of candidates?

Monica Beckwith: Some recruiters (or even interview panel) may unknowing exhibit condescending attitude. It needn’t be technical condescension, sometimes a discussion about pay or relocation can turn into a dogmatic condescension.

JAXenter: What’s your take on coding bootcamps? Can they make female engineers more appealing to prospective employers?

Monica Beckwith: It depends on the employer. I think bootcamps are not necessary to show competence. Awareness of the industry, awareness and willingness to participate in the job/company (that they are interested) is more important.

JAXenter: What should potential employers do to convince female engineers to join their companies and not others?

Monica Beckwith: Be flexible to accommodate their needs. Many a times the “flexibility” is tailored towards male employees. I always feel that asking a female employee directly as to how they can get her to join their company vs company B would also be a great direct way.

Some recruiters (or even interview panel) may unknowing exhibit condescending attitude.

JAXenter: How important is it to quantify a company’s ratios before going on a hiring spree?

Monica Beckwith: Every female engineer is different. When I started at my first job, I was the second female engineer that they had hired. I was just plain happy to see another female engineer. But today, I feel that a company that doesn’t realize that they have to have a balanced ratio are missing out and that just makes me unhappy.

JAXenter: Where do recruiters go wrong during the hiring process? What are the possible deal-breakers?

Monica Beckwith: This is different with different women. For me, relocation is a deal-breaker. And I am a great remote worker, so it seems really weird that people/companies would want me to relocate.

SEE ALSO: How can you hire more women engineers? “Show off your community spirit”

JAXenter: What is the most important step that recruiters sometimes forget when hiring female engineers?

Monica Beckwith: Recruiters and interviewers – all of them should remember to give the female engineers equal (or more that 50%) opportunity to talk. I am an introvert and feel very uncomfortable to interrupt someone, and many-a-times at the middle of the conversation, I already know that I don’t want to pursue the opportunity any more. Many a times when I have actually visited a company, I tell the hiring manager the reason that I don’t want to join their company and most often the reason is that I didn’t feel encouraged to voice myself – or condescension exhibited by some male interviewers.

Thank you very much!

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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